Kickstartering

So, as most of you know, the plan for this book project of mine is to get it funded through a crowdfunding service and, so far, the most likely candidate for a creative project like this is Kickstarter. Here’s a quick definition of crowdfunding, for any of you who may not know: “Crowdfunding (alternately crowd financingequity crowdfundingcrowd equitycrowd-sourced fundraising) is the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations.”-Wikipedia

Kickstarter works on an incentive based system, which they call ‘rewards’. As their website points out:

Every project’s primary rewards should be things made by the project itself. If the project is to record a new album, then rewards should include a copy of the CD when it’s finished. Rewards ensure that backers will benefit from a project just as much as its creator (i.e., they get cool stuff that they helped make possible!).

There are four common reward types that we see on Kickstarter:

  • Copies of the thing: the album, the DVD, a print from the show. These items should be priced what they would cost in a retail environment.
  • Creative collaborations: a backer appears as a hero in the comic, everyone gets painted into the mural, two backers do the handclaps for track 3.
  • Creative experiences: a visit to the set, a phone call from the author, dinner with the cast, a concert in your backyard.
  • Creative mementos: Polaroids sent from location, thanks in the credits, meaningful tokens that tell a story.”

So this is where it starts to get interesting. Literature projects on Kickstarter have a much lower success rate than most other projects there. They are second lowest in success rate, just above fashion projects, at 32.39%. There are over 10,000 unsuccessful literature campaigns, 2,238 of which received no funding.

The numbers are interesting on that front. The further along a project gets (like, say, above 50% funding) the more likely it is to reach its total goal. That may seem obvious, but basically the most important part of the process is to get the ball rolling. I feel I can get enough local support to raise a chunk of what I’ll need, but I’ll need the majority of the help to come from outside of my own small group of friends, family, and other backers. And that’s where the rewards come in. According to them, “To date the most popular pledge amount is $25 and the average pledge is around $70. Small amounts are where it’s at: projects without a reward of $20 or less succeed 28% of the time, while projects with a reward of $20 or less succeed 45% of the time.”

So, I think I’ll start the pledges at $10. I feel if it’s any lower people will pledge $5 and feel they’re supporting the project well. But a project of this magnitude, with projected costs of around $8000, would need 1600 different backers if everyone donated $5. And I strongly doubt I can pull that kind of support, especially coming into this project as an unknown.

So here are a few ideas I’ve had for different rewards at the different pledge points:

$10-eBook version of the story

$20-eBook and Audiobook

$50-eBook, Audiobook and hardcover

$100-eBook, Audiobook, signed hardcover and art print

$200-eBook, Audiobook, signed hardcover and signed art print

$500-eBook, Audiobook, two signed hardcovers, signed art print and name in the acknowledgements

$750-eBook, Audiobook, three signed hardcovers, signed art print, name and picture in acknowledgements

$1000-eBook, Audiobook, four signed hardcovers, signed art print, name and picture in acknowledgements and you get to write the foreword (or, if there are multiple donations at this level, which I find hard to imagine, they could share authorship of the foreword/afterword)

So there are a few ideas. They’re still very early ideas. I feel like I definitely need to come up with some better stuff for the higher donations. More personalized rewards. More exciting rewards. I have no idea if anyone will pledge more than $50, but I’d like to provide some incentive to…

It looks like some authors of art books provide prints that are not in their books and only available to Kickstarter philanthropists. Something like that might be a good idea…

Feel free to let me know what you think about all this. Would you donate with those rewards? What rewards would you like or expect in order to donate? Do you know of anyone else who’s successfully crowdfunded a book project? How did they do it?

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